The Revolt of Absalom Begins   Leave a comment

Above:  Absalom Conspires Against David

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XLII

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2 Samuel 15:1-37

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For [the wicked] cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;

they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.

For they eat the bread of wickedness

and drink the wine of violence.

Proverbs 4:17-18, Revised Standard Version (1952)

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The framing of the story of King David in 2 Samuel, told via hindsight, pivots in Chapters 11 and 12.  After the murder of Uriah the Hittite and the seduction of Bathsheba, the narrative teaches us, David’s figurative chickens came home to roost.  One should, therefore, read the stories of Absalom in the context of 2 Samuel 12:9-12.

David was oblivious then shrewd in 2 Samuel 15.  He missed the signs of Absalom acting like a monarch and starting a rebellion until the time to prevent that insurrection had passed.  Yet David established a network of spies in Jerusalem after having fled the city.

David reaped what what he sowed.  He reaped what he sowed beyond the call back to Bathsheba and Uriah.  David also reaped what he sowed by having a terrible relationship with Absalom.  It was a two-way relationship, of course.  David did little or nothing to have a positive relationship with Absalom, even after pretending to reconcile with him.  If David had acted shrewdly vis-à-vis Absalom, the monarch would have kept at least as close an eye on him as he did on Mephibosheth.

Ironically, Ittai the Gittite, a foreigner, was loyal to David when Absalom and many Israelites were not.  Ittai remained loyal to David throughout the rebellion (see Chapter 18).

On a technical note, the proper passage of time in verse 7 is four years, not forty years.  TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985) has “forty,” but The New American Bible (1991) has “four.”  This sets the beginning of Absalom’s rebellion four years after the faux reconciliation at the end of Chapter 14, six years after Absalom’s return from exile, nine years after the murder of Amnon, and eleven years after the rape of Tamar (Chapter 13).  The narrative presents Absalom as a passionate, troubled man who had been stewing in the juices of resentment for years.  One may guess how long Absalom had resented David prior to Amnon’s rape of Tamar.  The narrative presets David and Absalom as being emotionally distant from each other.

One may recall a saying:  Before a man can command others well, he must command himself.  One may reasonably question the fitness of David and Absalom to command, based on that standard.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 2, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RALPH W. SOCKMAN, U.S. UNITED METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF CARL DOVING, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JAMES ALLEN, ENGLISH INGHAMITE THEN GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HIS GREAT NEPHEW, OSWALD ALLEN, ENGLISH GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PETRUS HERBERT, GERMAN MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMNODIST

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